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Clashing Views on Environmental Issues



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Clashing Views on Environmental Issues by Thomas A Easton
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"Taking Sides volumes" present current controversial issues in a debate-style format designed to stimulate student interest and develop critical thinking skills. Each issue is thoughtfully framed with an issue summary, an issue introduction, and a postscript or challenge questions. "Taking Sides" readers feature an annotated listing of selected World Wide Web sites. An online Instructor's Resource Guide with testing material is available for each volume. Using "Taking Sides" in the Classroom is also an excellent instructor resource. Visit the website for more details.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents Clashing Views on Environmental Issues, Fourteenth Edition Unit 1 Environmental Philosophy Issue 1. Is the Precautionary Principle a Sound Approach to Risk Analysis?YES: Nancy Myers, from "The Rise of the Precautionary Principle:A Social Movement Gathers Strength," Multinational Monitor (September 2004)NO: Bernard D. Goldstein, from "The Precautionary Principle: Is It a Threat to Toxicological Science?" International Journal of Toxicology (January/February 2006)Nancy Myers, communications director for the Science and Environmental Health Network, argues that because the Precautionary Principle "makes sense of uncertainty," it has gained broad international recognition as being crucial to environmental policy. Bernard D. Goldstein, professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Pittsburgh, argues that although the Precautionary Principle is potentially valuable, it poses a risk that scientific (particularly toxicological) risk assessment will be displaced to the detriment of public health, social justice, and the field of toxicology itself. Issue 2. Is Sustainable Development Compatible with Human Welfare?YES: Jeremy Rifkin, from "The European Dream: Building Sustainable Development in a Globally Connected World," E Magazine (March/April 2005)NO: Ronald Bailey, from "Wilting Greens," Reason (December 2002)Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, argues that Europeans pride themselves on their quality of life, and their emphasis on sustainable development promises to maintain that quality of life into the future. Environmental journalist Ronald Bailey states that sustainable development results in economic stagnation and threatens both the environment and the world's poor. Issue 3. Should a Price Be Put on the Goods and Services Provided by the World's Ecosystems?YES: John E. Losey and Mace Vaughan, from "The Economic Value of Ecological Services Provided by Insects," BioScience (April 2006) NO: Marino Gatto and Giulio A. De Leo, from "Pricing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: The Never-Ending Story," BioScience (April 2000) John E. Losey and Mace Vaughan argue that even conservative estimates of the value of the services provided by wild insects are enough to justify increased conservation efforts. They say that "everyone would benefit from the facilitation of the vital services these insects provide." Professors of applied ecology Marino Gatto and Giulio A. De Leo contend that the pricing approach to valuing nature's services is misleading because it falsely implies that only economic values matter. Unit 2 Principles Versus Politics Issue 4. Should North America's Landscape Be Restored to Its Pre-Human State?YES: C. Josh Donlan, from "Restoring America's Big, Wild Animals," Scientific American (June 2007) NO: Dustin R. Rubenstein, Daniel I. Rubenstein, Paul W. Sherman, and Thomas A. Gavin, from "Pleistocene Park: Does Re-Wilding North America Represent Sound Conservation for the 21st Century?" Biological Conservation (vol. 132, 2006) C. Josh Donlan proposes that because the arrival of humans in the Americas some 13,000 years ago led to the extinction of numerous large animals (including camels, lions, and mammoths) with major effects on local ecosystems, restoring these animals (or their near-relatives from elsewhere in the world) holds the potential to restore health to these ecosystems. There would also be economic and cultural benefits. Dustin R. Rubenstein, Daniel I. Rubenstein, Paul W. Sherman, and Thomas A. Gavin argue that bringing African and Asian megafauna to North America is unlikely to restore pre-human ecosystem function and may threaten present species and ecosystems. It would be better to focus resources on restoring species where they were only recently extinguished. Issue 5. Should the Military Be Exempt from Environmental Regulations?YES: Benedict S. Cohen, "Impact of Military Training on the Environment," Testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (April 2, 2003) NO: Jamie Clark, "Impact of Military Training on the Environment," Testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (April 2, 2003) Benedict S. Cohen argues that environmental regulations interfere with military training and other "readiness" activities, and that though the U.S. Department of Defense will continue "to provide exemplary stewardship of the lands and natural resources in our trust" those regulations must be revised to permit the military to do its job without interference. Jamie Clark argues that reducing the Department of Defense's environmental obligations is dangerous because both people and wildlife would be threatened with serious, irreversible, and unnecessary harm. Issue 6. Will Restricting Carbon Emissions Damage the U.S. Economy? YES: Paul Cicio, from "Competitiveness and Climate Policy: Avoiding Leakage of Jobs and Emissions," testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment (March 18, 2009)NO: Eileen Claussen, from "Competitiveness and Climate Policy: Avoiding Leakage of Jobs and Emissions," testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment (March 18, 2009)Paul Cicio argues that lacking global agreements, capping greenhouse gas emissions of the industrial sector will make domestic production less competitive in the global market, drive investment and jobs offshore, increase exports, and damage the economy. The real greenhouse gas problem lies with other sectors of the economy, and that is where attention should be focused. Eileen Claussen argues that environmental regulations have little impact on trade patterns and that though controlling greenhouse gas emissions will affect industrial production, most of the impact will come from a decline in consumption. Unit 3 Energy Issues Issue 7. Should We Drill for Offshore Oil?YES: Stephen L. Baird, from "Offshore Oil Drilling: Buying Energy Independence or Buying Time?" The Technology Teacher (November 2008).NO: Mary Annette Rose, from "The Environmental Impacts of Offshore Oil Drilling," The Technology Teacher (February 2009).Stephen L. Baird argues that the demand for oil will continue even as we develop alternative energy sources. Drilling for offshore oil will not give the United States energy independence, but the nation cannot afford to ignore energy sources essential to maintaining its economy and standard of living. Mary Annette Rose argues that the environmental impacts of exploiting offshore oil--including toxic pollution, ocean acidification, and global warming--are so complex and far-reaching that any decision to expand U.S. oil drilling must be based on more than public opinion driven by consumer demands for cheap energy, economic trade imbalances, and politics. Issue 8. Is Carbon Capture Technology Ready to Limit Carbon Emissions?YES: David G. Hawkins, from "Carbon Capture and Sequestration," Testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality (March 6, 2007)NO: Charles W. Schmidt, from "Carbon Capture & Storage: Blue-Sky Technology or Just Blowing Smoke?" Environmental Health Perspectives (November 2007)David G. Hawkins, director of the Climate Center of the Natural Resources Defense Council, argues that we know enough to implement large-scale carbon capture and sequestration for new coal plants. The technology is ready to do so safely and effectively. Charles W. Schmidt argues that the technology is not yet technically and financially feasible, research is stuck in low gear, and the political commitment to reducing carbon emissions is lacking. Issue 9. Is It Time to Put Geothermal Energy Development on the Fast Track?YES: Susan Petty, from testimony on the National Geothermal Initiative Act of 2007 before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (September 26, 2007).NO: Alexander Karsner, from testimony on the National Geothermal Initiative Act of 2007 before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (S eptember 26, 2007).Susan Petty, president of AltaRock Energy, Inc., argues that the technology already exists to greatly increase the production and use of geothermal energy. Supplying 20 percent of U.S. electricity from geothermal energy by 2030 is a very realistic goal. Alexander Karsner, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, argues that it is not feasible to supply 20 percent of U.S. electricity from geothermal energy by 2030. Issue 10. Should Cars Be More Efficient?YES: David Friedman, from "CAFE Standards," Testimony before Committee on Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation, March 6, 2007 NO: Charli E. Coon, from "Why the Government's CAFE Standards for Fuel Efficiency Should Be Repealed, Not Increased," The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder #1458, July 11, 2001David Friedman, Research Director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, argues that the technology exists to improve the fuel efficiency standards for new cars and trucks and requiring improved efficiency can cut oil imports, save money, create jobs, and help with global warming. Charli E. Coon, Senior Policy Analyst with the Heritage Foundation, argues that the 1975 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program failed to meet its goals of reducing oil imports and gasoline consumption and has endangered human lives. It needs to be abolished and replaced with market-based solutions. Issue 11. Are Biofuels Responsible for Rising Food Prices?YES: Donald Mitchell, from "A Note on Rising Food Prices," The World Bank Development Prospects Group (July 2008)NO: Keith Kline, Virginia H. Dale, Russell Lee, and Paul Leiby, from "In Defense of Biofuels, Done Right," Issues in Science and Technology (Spring 2009)Donald Mitchell argues that although many factors contributed to the increase in internationally traded food prices from January 2002 to June 2008, the most important single factor was the large increase in biofuels production from grains and oilseeds in the U.S. and EU. Keith Kline, Virginia H. Dale, Russell Lee, and Paul Leiby argue that the impact of biofuels production on food prices is much less than alarmists claim. There would be greater impact if biofuels development focused on converting biowastes and fast-growing trees and grasses into fuels. Issue 12. Is It Time to Revive Nuclear Power?YES: Iain Murray, from "Nuclear Power? Yes, Please," National Review (June 16, 2008).NO: Kristin Shrader-Frechette, from "Five Myths About Nuclear Energy," America (June 23--30, 2008)Iain Murray argues that the world's experience with nuclear power has shown it to be both safe and reliable. Costs can be contained, and if one is concerned about global warming, the case for nuclear power is unassailable. Professor Kristin Shrader-Frechette argues that nuclear power is one of the most impractical and risky of energy sources. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are a sounder choice. Unit 4 Food and Population Issue 13. Are Improved Aid Policies the Best Way to Improve Global Food Supply and Protect World Population? YES: Robert Paarlberg, from "Evaluating, and Improving, America's Response to Global Hunger," testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Hearing on "Alleviating Global Hunger: Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Leadership" (March 24, 2009) NO: Lester R. Brown, from "Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?" Scientific American (May 2009)Professor Robert Paarlberg argues that global hunger, which afflicts nearly a billion people worldwide, many of them in Africa, calls for increased aid directed toward agricultural education, science, and research, and infrastructure development. Lester R. Brown argues that the problem is due more to water shortages, soil losses, rising population, and rising temperatures from global warming than to failures of aid policies. What is needed is immediate attention to the world's environmental problems, lacking which the result will be increased hunger, political conflict, and perhaps even the collapse of civilization. Issue 14. Is Genetic Engineering the Answer to Hunger?YES: Gerald D. Coleman, from "Is Genetic Engineering the Answer to Hunger?" America (February 21, 2005)NO: Sean McDonagh, from "Genetic Engineering Is Not the Answer," America (May 2, 2005) Gerald D. Coleman argues that genetically engineered crops are useful, healthful, and nonharmful, and although caution may be justified, such crops can help satisfy the moral obligation to feed the hungry. Sean McDonagh argues that those who wish to feed the hungry would do better to address land reform, social inequality, lack of credit, and other social issues. Issue 15. Can Organic Farming Feed the World? YES: Catherine Badgley, et al., "Organic Agriculture and the Global Food Supply," Renewable Agriculture & Food Systems (June 2007)NO: John J. Miller, from "The Organic Myth," National Review (February 9, 2004)Catherine Badgley, et al., argue that organic methods could produce enough food to sustain a global human population that is even larger than today's, and without requiring additional farmland. Organic agriculture would also decrease the undesirable environmental effects of conventional farming. John J. Miller argues that organic farming is not productive enough to feed today's population, much less larger future populations; it is prone to dangerous biological contamination; and it is not sustainable. Unit 5 Toxic Chemicals Issue 16. Should DDT Be Banned Worldwide?YES: Anne Platt McGinn, from "Malaria, Mosquitoes, and DDT," World Watch (May/June 2002)NO: Donald R. Roberts, from Statement before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, Hearing on the Role of Science in Environmental Policy-Making (September 28, 2005)Anne Platt McGinn, a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, argues that although DDT is still used to fight malaria, there are other, more effective and less environmentally harmful methods. She maintains that DDT should be banned or reserved for emergency use. Donald R. Roberts argues that the scientific evidence regarding the environmental hazards of DDT has been seriously misrepresented by anti-pesticide activists. The hazards of malaria are much greater and, properly used, DDT can prevent them and save lives. Issue 17. Do Environmental Hormone Mimics Pose a Potentially Serious Health Threat?YES: Michele L. Trankina, from "The Hazards of Environmental Estrogens," The World & I (October 2001)NO: Michael Gough, from "Endocrine Disrupters, Politics, Pesticides, the Cost of Food and Health," Daily Commentary (December 15, 1997)Professor of biological sciences Michele L. Trankina argues that a great many synthetic chemicals behave like estrogen, alter the reproductive functioning of wildlife, and may have serious health effects--including cancer--on humans. Michael Gough, a biologist and expert on risk assessment and environmental policy, argues that only "junk science" supports the hazards of environmental estrogens. Issue 18. Is the Superfund Program Successfully Protecting Human Health from Hazardous Materials?YES: Robert H. Harris, Jay Vandeven, and Mike Tilchin, from "Superfund Matures Gracefully," Issues in Science & Technology, Summer 2003, Vol. 19, Issue 4NO: Randall Patterson, from "Not in Their Back Yard," Mother Jones (May/June 2007)Environmental consultants Robert H. Harris, Jay Vandeven, and Mike Tilchin argue that although the Superfund program still has room for improvement, it has made great progress in risk assessment and treatment technologies. Journalist Randall Patterson argues that the Superfund Program is not applied to some appropriate situations, largely because people resist its application. Issue 19. Should the United States Reprocess Spent Nuclear Fuel?YES: Phillip J. Finck, from Statement before the House Committee on Science, Energy Subcommittee, Hearing on Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing (June 16, 2005)NO: Charles D. Ferguson, "An Assessment of the Proliferation Risks of Spent Fuel Reprocessing and Alternative Nuclear Waste Management Strategies," from Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology Hearing on Advancing Technology for Nuclear Fuel Recycling: What Should Our Research, Development and Demonstration Strategy Be? (June 17, 2009).Phillip J. Finck argues that by reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, the United States can enable nuclear power t o expand its contribution to the nation's energy needs while reducing carbon emissions, nuclear waste, and the need for waste repositories such as Yucca Mountain. Charles D. Ferguson, Philip D. Reed senior fellow for science and technology at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that even though reprocessing can help reduce nuclear waste management problems, because as currently practiced it both poses a significant risk that weapons-grade material will fall into the wrong hands and raises the price of nuclear fuel (compared to the once-through fuel cycle), it should not be pursued at present.
Release date Australia
March 2nd, 2010
Country of Publication
United States
14th Revised edition
McGraw-Hill Professional
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